Players union to investigate Twins

MINNEAPOLIS (TICKER) Francisco Liriano has dominated in the minor leagues, yet hasn’t been called up to join the Minnesota Twins. Liriano’s agent has pressed the players’ union to find out why.

Greg Genske has convinced the union to investigate whether the Twins have violated the collective bargaining agreement by keeping Liriano at Class AAA Rochester of the International League.

Liriano, who underwent “Tommy John” surgery in November 2006, returned to the Twins in April and posted a dismal 0-3 record and 11.32 ERA in three starts. However, since being sent down to the minors on April 25, the 24-year-old lefthander has gone 8-0 with a 2.53 ERA in 10 starts.

Despite his success, Liriano remains in the minors, possibly to delay his ability to file for arbitration after the season.

He currently has two years, 45 days of service time in the majors but needs three years in order to qualify for arbitration. The top 17 percent of players between two and three years of service also qualify for arbitration.

But, with only 73 days remaining in the regular season, Liriano would still likely fall short of the top 17 percent, depriving him of a salary increase of nearly $1 million for the 2009 campaign.

Twins general manager Bill Smith, who said Thursday night that he has not been informed of any investigation, denied being concerned over Liriano’s service time.

“If service time was a factor, we wouldn’t have brought him up in April,” said Smith, whose team entered Friday just 1.5 games behind the first-place Chicago White Sox in the American League Central Division. “We brought him up in April hoping that he would find what he had before and he’d be up here all year.

“I’m thrilled at the progress he has made over the last year and a half since the surgery and especially in the last three months. … But we brought him up in April and he clearly wasn’t ready. The best thing that came out of that was that the message was clear to everybody - to Francisco, to his agent, to the front office, the coaches and the fans - and the message was that he wasn’t ready. He went back and, again, he has done everything that we’ve asked.”

Genske told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the union felt it was reasonable to initiate an investigation.

“All I will say is that we felt there were enough facts to warrant a contact with the Players’ Association and get them involved in the matter,” Genske told the Tribune.


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Updated Friday, Jul 18, 2008